Whether your content is for children, teens, or adults, you know how important it is to write for your audience. You’re not going to approach a picture book for kids the same way you would tackle a blog post for adults. But have you ever been in the middle of an article and thought, is this too complex for my readers? What grade level is my writing here, anyway?
Well, if you have, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll tell you how you can determine the grade level of your writing. We’ll talk about the role of readability in grade levels, the different readability tests you can use, and give some advice on writing grade level-friendly content for your audience.
What Role Does Readability Play in the Grade Level of My Writing?
The grade level and readability of your writing go hand in hand. See, readability is about how easy it is to read and understand a text. The higher the readability of your text, the easier it is to read.
The most common way to calculate readability is to use a readability formula. These formulas use certain characteristics of your text to calculate a readability score. You can then use that score to determine the grade level of your content.
Now, you may have your own goals here, but for the general public, you should aim for a grade level of 7 or 8. This tends to be the sweet spot for readability.
How Can I Use Readability Formulas to Determine the Grade Level of My Writing?
You have two options here: crunch the numbers yourself, or have a readability checker do it for you. Let’s start with the first option.
Option 1: Calculate the Readability Scores Yourself
The first step here is to choose a formula. You have lots of choices here, including:
To spare you from pages and pages of numbers and calculations (you’re welcome!), we’ll briefly go over one of the most popular formulas: the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level.
It looks something like this:
0.39 (total words/total sentences) + 11.8 (total syllables/total words) - 15.59
So, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula looks at the total words, sentences, and syllables to calculate a score. This score then corresponds to a US grade level of education. For example, if you receive a score of 9, it means that your content is appropriate for those at a 9th grade reading level.
While this manual method works, calculating these scores can be time consuming, especially if you’re writing a long document. Fortunately, the second option is much faster.
Option 2: Use Online Tools to Calculate Readability Scores
The best way to determine the grade level of your writing is to use an online tool, like a readability checker. These tools will do the calculations for you, and some will even help you identify opportunities to improve your scores. Even better, they’re easy to use.
Take Originality.AI’s readability checker, for example. All you need to do is copy-and-paste, upload, or enter the URL of your text, and hit “Analyze”. It will then run your text through not just the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test, but all of the readability formulas we listed above, and calculate your scores.
But it doesn’t stop there. This online tool will also tell you what grade level you should be aiming for on each formula, and highlight the ones where you could improve your score. And to help you out with that, it will also identify any readability-related issues with your text, including complex words, long sentences, and adverbs.
Basically a readability checker will tell you everything you need to know about the grade level of your writing, and highlight areas for improvement. And the best part? OriginalityAI’s readability checker does it all for free.
Tips to Improve the Readability of Your Writing
Now, what do you do if the grade level of your text is higher than it should be? Well, you take steps to improve its readability. Here are some of our top tips:
- Shorten 4+ syllable words: If you find that the readability checker is highlighting some of the longer words in your text, then shorten them up! Your readers will have an easier time understanding short, common words than long, complex ones.
- Break up long sentences: Are your sentences getting highlighted too? Break them up so that there’s only one idea per sentence.
- Replace adverbs: The occasional adverb won’t hurt readability too much, but you should keep them to a minimum. Use more concise verbs in their place.
It’s important to know the grade level of your writing if you want to reach your audience effectively. Fortunately, you can easily find out by using readability formulas. By plugging the right information into the formula, you can get a better sense of whether your content is appropriate for your readers.
Plus, if you use a readability checker, you’ll also receive some feedback on how you can improve your scores. So, the next time you’re wondering about the grade level of your writing, throw it into a readability checker. More readable, successful content is just around the corner!